Mount Whitney Lottery - Permit Reservations

2019 Mt Whitney Lottery Scheduled to Open Feb.22 - News Release

Hikes occurring May 1 through November 1 are reserved by the Mt. Whitney Lottery. Please note the trail is not usually clear of snow until July.

If you are using any route other than the classic Mt. Whitney Trail use the "Which Permit Do I Need" to find the right permit, not all trips to Mt Whitney are reserved in the lottery.

Permits for winter season trips are available at the visitor center. Permit Pickup Instructions & Wilderness Rules and Regulations

3 Things You Need to Know Before You Apply

  1. Alternate leaders must now confirm that they accept the responsibility to be an alternate and can only be designated at the time the reservation is made. +more
  2. For group size you can now choose to have a maximum group size considered first, and if there is not enough space be reconsidered for a smaller group size (down to your choice of minimum number of people) for each of the 15 trip choices on the lottery application.
  3. You cannot change any information on the application after it is submitted (cart checked out). To change or add alternate leader, entry date, or permit type you must withdraw the application and reapply before March 15. Contact the wilderness permit office to withdraw an application. What Can and Cannot Be Changed!

2019 Mount Whitney Lottery opens February 22

The opening date was delayed this year. Applications will be accepted from February 22 through March 15 on the recreation.gov website at: https://www.recreation.gov/permits/233260

There is no advantage to applying first, all the applications will be held until after March 15. Applications will then be assigned a random order to be processed and software will check if there is space for dates you requested.            

Application Form

Your lottery application must be completed on line (applications are not accepted by mail or fax). On the application you indicate:

  • Date(s) you want to hike.
  • If you want a day hike or overnight permit.
  • Maximum to minimum group size.
  • Alternate dates, up to 15 trip choices on one application.
  • List up to 3 alternate leaders with a valid email addresses at the time you apply. Alternates must respond to email within 72 hours and accept responsibility.

Make sure all your information is correct, applications cannot be changed or modified later. Submit your application by checking out the cart and paying $6.00 application fee.

Lottery results are posted to your personal profile on recreation.gov on March 24. If you won your date, decide how many people you want to keep before you accept. In April you must pay the $15 per person reservation fee to claim your date. Once you have paid the reservation fee there are no refunds.

Lottery Terms

Submit only one application. You may request up to 15 alternate dates on one application. Do not submit multiple applications. Groups that do submit multiple applications will be rejected. You are limited to win one trip from the lottery each year. If you want more trips this year, additional reservations can be made after the lottery. Unclaimed dates will be canceled and released for web reservations on May 1.

  • Reservations are only valid for the stated entry date or permit type. No rain checks. No rescheduling.
  • Groups larger than 15 people are prohibited.
  • Reservations cannot be resold or transferred.
  • Alternate leaders cannot be added or changed later.
  • Only the leader (or verified alternate) listed on application can pick up or use the permit.

Trips sponsored by organizations or commercial groups must contact the Inyo National Forest wilderness permit office before applying for a Mt. Whitney permit.

In the event of a lapse in federal government funding the Recreation.gov website may freeze. If the website is down during the Mt Whitney Lottery the application period will not be extended.

Fees

No refunds for Mt. Whitney per person or reservation transaction fees.
Reservation Transaction Fee: $6 per permit paid at the time you apply.
$15 per Person Reservation Fee: pay the $15 per person fee during April to claim a date awarded in the lottery. Only pay for the number of people you wish to keep. Once the fee has been paid there are no refunds.

Links to: Other Permits to Mt. Whitney.
2018 Mt Whitney Lottery Statistics

Last Years Lottery Progress Report (progress reports may not be available this year due to the opening delay)

What are My Chances?    Will there be Snow? other Frequently Asked Questions

Recommended reading, "Hiking the Mt Whitney Trail
Links to trail information: Mt. Whitney Trail  -  North Fork Lone Pine Creek  

Important Dates

Opening and Closing dates for Mt Whitney Permits
DATES INFORMATION
February 22 March 15 Apply for Mt Whitney permit on line before lottery closes at midnight Eastern time on March 15.
March 24 Lottery results posted, log onto your recreation.gov account and look for your lottery application.
April 1 Reservations for remaining dates open online at 7 a.m. Pacific Time (No phone reservations). Web reservations are first come first serve and will stay open for the rest of the season.
April 30 Deadline Lottery Winners: Pay $15 per person fee to claim dates won in lottery. You must complete checking out the cart before midnight April 30 or your win will be revoked.
May 1 Unclaimed and canceled lottery dates are made available for web reservations (no phone sales) starting at 7:00am Pacific Time.
May 1 - November 1 Quota season when number of people per day is limited
November 2 - April 30 Permit issued at visitor center for non-quota season (no reservations)

Two Permits are in the Lottery

Day use and overnight permits are not interchangeable, you must have a permit for the type of trip you are doing.

Mt Whitney Trail starts in Inyo National Forest at Whitney Portal, 8,300 feet above sea level. The trail gains over 6,200 feet of elevation before reaching the summit in Sequoia National Park. The summit of Mt. Whitney is the southern end of the John Muir Trail.

Day Use – Mt. Whitney Zone Permit

This permit is valid for one day only, from midnight to midnight. Choose the route appropriate for your group, Mt. Whitney Trail or climbing routes like the Mountaineers Route.

  • Map of Mt Whitney Zone shows where a permit is required for day hikes
  • Day Use permit cannot be used to pass through the area for an overnight trip.
  • Consecutive day use permits are not allowed.
  • If a trip is more than one calendar date an Overnight permit is required.

Most day hikers choose the classic Mt. Whitney Trail. The 22-mile round-trip hike will challenge even very fit hikers. Expect to hike 12 to 14 hours to the summit and back. Consider starting before sunrise. Be prepared to hike in the dark. Choose your dates wisely. The Mt. Whitney Trail is a non-technical, but strenuous, route to the summit when it is free of snow. However when snow or ice is on the mountain winter mountaineering skills and equipment are necessary for safe travel. The trail is usually snow-free from July to late September. Any day hikers attempting more technical rock climbing routes should carefully research the difficulty.

Overnight -Mt Whitney Trail

This permit includes multi-night trips starting on the classic Mt Whitney Trail and allows camping along the Mt Whitney Trail and summiting Mt. Whitney.

For the backpacker attempting to go up and back on the Mt. Whitney Trail, a popular travel plan is to stay one or two nights camping at Lone Pine Lake (10,000ft level), Outpost Camp (10,500ft level), Consultation Lake (11,000ft level) or Trail Camp (12,000ft level). The Mt Whitney Trail overnight permit can also be extended to continue onto the John Muir Trail or Pacific Crest Trail giving the opportunity to trek the longest roadless section of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

To extend your permit indicate your exit location. The trip must be one continuous wilderness trip. An interruption in wilderness travel will require a new permit to re-start.

An overnight permit to use the Mt Whitney Trail does not include other routes. If you wish to approach climbing routes like Mountaineers Route, East Face, East Buttress, or Mt Russell request an overnight permit for North Fork of Lone Pine Creek (not in the lottery).

Mount Whitney Zone Map

Click map to view full size.

  • Day hikers are required to have a wilderness permit (area outlined in the RED)
  • Overnight permits are required for all multi day trips in the wilderness. This includes outside the RED zone, camping at Lone Pine Lake, and trips that will pass through the Whitney Zone to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park.

Whitney Zone Map shows permit requirement areas

What are My Chances?

In 2018 we had more than 16,000 applications resulting in an overall success rate of 37%.

What is the frequency of cancelations and no show?

Life happens, some of the groups that win a spot from the lottery may have to cancel their plans. When a group leader reduces their group size or cancels a reservation, the space is put back on the web for reservations. As the trip date approaches we ask the leader to finalize their group size and make any extra space available to others through the web reservations. Many people report they were able to make a reservation in the weeks before the trip, thanks to the consideration of other Mt Whitney hikers.

Did you make a mistake? What Can and Cannot be Changed

Lottery Application
Once an application is submitted (cart checked out) you cannot make changes to any of the information.

Can not be Changed:

  • Entry date
  • Permit type (day use or overnight)
  • Alternate leaders
  • Maximum group size

What can be changed later:

  • You can accept for a smaller group size.
  • Increase in group size can only be done if space is available May 1.
  • Corrections to itinerary or exit location can be done when the permit is issued.

There are no credits or refunds if you cancel a reservation to rebook a diffrent trip.

Obtaining Your Permit
Mt. Whitney permits are issued at the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center. The leader or alternate identified on the reservation must check in to pick up the permit. Show photo ID when requested. Review the permit pickup instructions for No Show deadline, how to arrange for will call and night box service.
Permit Pickup Instructions.

After the Lottery

Did you win a date in Mt. Whitney lottery? How to Accept or Decline

On March 24 you can log on to see if your application was successful. Before you Accept a date decide how many people you want. If you accept a smaller group size the space given up cannot be restored. Once you accept and pay there are no refunds.

April 30 is the Deadline to claim the date awarded. log into your account on recreation.gov and open the link to your lottery application.

Decline: If you’re not interested in using the awarded permit you should decline. Dates cannot be transferred, rescheduled, traded, or sold. You cannot change the date, leader, or permit type. Only the awarded choice can be claimed.

Accept: Only accept a permit you want to use.
To accept you will need to complete trip information and use the shopping cart to to pay the $15 per person reservation fee. Fees are final after checking out the cart. No Refunds.

  • Verify date, permit type, and group size are what you want.
  • Itinerary: For overnight trips longer than one night, verify your Exit Date and Exit Trail. John Muir Trail hikers, select your exit location to indicate the section you are hiking. You can reopen the reservation later (after April 30) to revise and fill in your full itinerary.
  • Group size: You may reduce your group size and only pay for the number of people you choose to accept, however space cannot be restored unless space becomes available later.
  • To complete the acceptance, check out the shopping cart.

Pay and check out the cart before midnight Eastern Time on April 30, or the reservation will be canceled.

Did you miss the lottery? How to make a reservation after the lottery

April 1st. web reservations will open at 7 a.m. Pacific Time (10 a.m. Eastern) and will stay open for the rest of the season. When searching for an available date a blank space on the reservation calendar indicates the date is full.
May 1st. additional space from unclaimed lottery dates will be released for web reservations.

  • Mt. Whitney reservations are web only www.recreation.gov  (no phone reservations)
  • On the reservation calendar a blank space indicates that date is full.
  • Reservation is not final until you have successfully completed checking out the shopping cart and paid reservation fees in full.
  • A reservation receipt is not accepted as proof of a valid reservation.
  • Canceled space is released within 24 hours at a random time.

If you are using any route other than the Mt. Whitney Trail, review what permit is required.

Planning for Future Years? A Lottery is held each spring for reservations to hike Mt. Whitney in the current season. Apply to the Mt. Whitney lottery between February 1 and March 15 on the website, www.recreation.gov. After the lottery reservations will open on April 1 for any remaining dates.

Still have questions? Call the Wilderness Permit Office at (760) 873-2483 or by email (use Feedback Form) to Contact Us 



Highlights

  • Fee revenues make a difference
    Thank you. Your fees make a difference!

    National Forests in California are using recreation fee revenues to improve and enhance recreation opportunities. See how your fees have made a difference!



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